Triangle under storm watch through evening

Posted May 15, 2012 5:57 a.m. EDT
Updated May 15, 2012 6:21 p.m. EDT

— An upper-level low sitting over North Carolina pushed humidity above 80 percent in the Triangle Tuesday and put much of the eastern half of the state under a watch for severe thunderstorms. Durham, Wake and Cumberland counties were among those where the watch extended through 10 p.m., although only the Triangle remained mostly rain-free through the afternoon.

"To our east, they are seeing some downpours," said WRAL meteorologist Nate Johnson, "And we are likely to get wet before this is through."

Residents of Wilson reported seeing marble-size hail just after 6 p.m.

"Isolated storms could become strong to severe, and we could see intense wind gusts or even hail in some areas," added WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner.

Tuesday marked a second day under the low pressure for the Triangle, and the pattern looks the same through Wednesday.

Areas that see heavy rain could also see localized flooding where the ground is already saturated by two days of rainfall. Dozens of North Carolina counties are under a flash flood watch through Tuesday night.

State Department of Transportation officials asked drivers to be careful and to drive defensively, stay alert and never drive through standing or rushing water.

"People drown in their cars. Cars get flipped upside down. We've all heard stories about cars found with someone upside down (who) couldn't get out," said DOT spokesman Steve Abbott. "That's the kind of thing that could happen."

All types of vehicles are vulnerable to being swept off the road by rushing waters, and water as shallow as an inch or two hide a washout or hole where a vehicle can become stuck.

Wednesday will see similar weather: warm temperatures, humidity, showers and the threat of late-day storms.

"Then on Thursday, we're finally going to kick this whole thing out, and it looks like it will be rather pleasant for us," Gardner said.

The sun will begin to return to the North Carolina skies, the humidity will drop, and temperatures will settle into the upper 70s. Sunny and mild weather will reign through the weekend.